Coreopsis eco prints in review

The stunning reds in eco prints of Coreopsis verticillata are available most of the growing season in Zone 4 USDA where my garden is located; and even in winter, dried C. verticillata plants give vestiges of colour. We have 119 frost free days in Ottawa, from late May to sometime in September. The C. lanceolata and C. tinctoria are not reliably hardy in my garden – I think there are some cold zones that go below Zone 4 averages. Thus, C. verticillata is my reliable source of colour.

First, a reminder of a solar dye extraction: the coreopsis in alum and water (left) and plain water (right), just a few moments after being submerged in the jars of water. (The coreopsis have been in jars fo two weeks now and the colours of both are deepening. But that coreopsis story will be for another post! ) What is remarkable about the alum jar is that the coreopsis had been used already in an eco print on paper, yet it continued to give colour of this intensity – with alum acetate as mordant. The “plain water” jar contains fresh leaves which had not been processed.

Here are the somewhat frost- tender coreopsis:

And here is the hardier C. verticillata: I think the variety is “Zagreb”, since it is on the short side, i.e., about 18″

Late last summer, I made eco prints on paper with C. verticillata and plants that give contrasting colours. I love the “orange/blue” opposition and all versions of it, as here, with Purple Sandcherry (Prunus cistena) that gives a teal blue-green in the late summer:

Notice that the stalks and leaves (“Threadleaf” coreopsis) print browny-orange as well as red; and a kind of khaki, below:


When winter came alone, I had no more coreopsis left in my garden! But a neighbour who cuts down all her foliage in fall gave me her clippings of a much taller C. verticillata, “Golden Showers”, I am guessing, since it was well over two feet tall. I dried this coreopsis: the little flowers retained colour, as the image shows:

In January 2013, I made eco prints of them with dried tagetes. The coreopsis blooms gave orange patches and the stalks and leaves, dried, gave brown marks, like random straight stitchea(The tagetes gave greens and yellows, too)


I kept the bundle of dried plants in a large vase:

Spring 2013. Coreopsis, along with many other plants printed on water colour paper:

coreopsis is on the lower right of the pile of printed papers:

On the upper corners of the tulip prints:

Strong contrasts with the teals and golds of “Royalty” crabapple prints:

A few stalks of Coreopsis verticillata in an arrangement with maple seeds, spent tulip petals, dandelion and sprays of Red Currant. You can see why the plant is named “Threadleaf Coreopsis” in English. The Greek meaning is “tick” plant because the seeds look like those nasty bugs – hence another common name, “Tickseed”

Again, to repeat the pages of a ” Blizzard” book a la Hedi Kyle, printed with three kinds of coreopsis: verticillata, lanceolata and tinctoria: I will leave you to guess which is which and try for yourself the joys of working with this plant!



FInally, the linen printed with sumac and C. verticillata.

Modified with an iron dip:

No iron dip:

Next up:

In praise of dandelions! Their first wave has passed, but more will be coming we know!

Last weekend I attended a Dandelion Festival in Kemptville, Ontario. Learned how to make root beer with dandelions! Ate dandelion pesto on chicken with dandelion cupcake for dessert. Report coming.



12 thoughts on “Coreopsis eco prints in review

  1. Thank you for the interesting post, I have one plant of coreopsis in my garden, I am obviously going to have to invest in some more. I have loads of dandelions, unwanted, can’t wait for you post on them

  2. My coreopsis looks this summer as if it will do something which means maybe *i* can do something with it:) And we have a wonderful crop of dandilions happening n Calgary right now! I love the clear clear colours you are getting here.

  3. shall have to send you some dog fennel seeds as well–gorgeous frondy prints! have been pulling it out of my garden as a “weed”, but the prints are spectacular in their frondy clarity!

    1. arlee

      dangerous question …I am almost as bad hoarding seeds as I am hoarding fabrics… And plants… Would love some dog fennel. I have some dried Cor. v. for you but t do not know if the seeds are viable. Will send you some and you can try. The plant spreads by individual stalks that end in rhizhoms (cannot spell that word…) I can try sending some whole live stalks to you in a bubble envelope…someone once sent me columbine plants that way from Kitchener – they arrived alive and grew!

      Dandelion post next -want seeds?

      BTW, why does cotinus not grow in Calgary?


      1. you’re funny with the dandilion seeds 🙂 NO, we have lots of plenty 🙂

        I think our nights are too cold for cotinus but going to do some research–i’ve managed to keep zone 4 plants going so will check out cotinus as well–not sure which zone it is

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